strawberries | Edible Landscaping Made Easy With Avis Licht - Part 2

Sep 282011
Fountain provides the sound of water

Fountain provides the sound of water

When designing  a garden, you want to consider all your senses.  In this  post on landscape design I talk about landscaping for all your senses:  sight, smell, hearing and taste.

The first sense is visual. What looks pleasing can vary widely between people.  Some people prefer clean, formal lines, some prefer the wild and wooly chaos of a natural setting.  And there’s everything in between. When designing your own yard, be sure to look at magazines and books with gardens.  You’ll find that certain styles will really appeal to you.  You’ll keep coming back to the same type of garden.  Take these design elements and work them into your  landscape.  You may live in Portland and love the Southwest desert look, and in that case you’ll have to make some real adjustments in plant choice. But you can still get the Feel of the southwest.

Paths leading you into the garden

An informal garden with paths leading you through the gate

Designing for smell let’s you consider plants  that have wonderful  fragrance.  Many vines such as jasmine, clematis and roses can transport you to another world as you walk under an arbor.  Bulbs such as narcissus can naturalize in informal areas and provide cut flowers.  Night scented plants such as Datura and Nicotiana will do their work after the sun has set, and while you’re sitting quietly on your deck.

A trellis planted with fragrant vines

A trellis planted with fragrant vines is wonderful to sit under

Shrubs such as Daphne odora, Mock Orange and Citrus can be reliable evergreen shrubs that look good all year long in the garden and when they bloom provide heavenly smells.

Be sure to find places in the yard for fragrance, but don’t put competing plants in the same place.  Some folks find too much odor overwhelming.

When thinking about the sense of hearing there are different kinds of sounds to consider. For some folks, sounds of cars, traffic, trains, trucks can be a problem and the challenge is to mask these sounds.  To do this you can create dense hedges, walls or build a fountain with moving water.  These methods can help, but not always completely hide your problems

The sounds we want to encourage are bird song, wind rustling throughsoft leaves and sometimes the sound of moving water. When planting, be sure to create habitat for your song birds with shrubs and trees that encourage them to feed and nest nearby.

Finally, we come to the sense of taste.  For the Edible Landscape that surely should rise right to the top of our list.  The other day one of my sons came home after a long time away and started eating his way through the garden, starting with an apple from the tree along the path, then in delight he looked down and saw some ripe strawberries. He headed further along and started right in on the heirloom tomatoes.  I mean it was really funny watching him load up before he ever got in the front door.


Who can resist a ripe strawberry?

Food in the garden doesn’t always mean going into the vegetable garden.  With beautiful edibles in the landscaped portion of your yard, folks slow down to look and taste what’s there.  It’s fun and excuse me for adding, healthy too!

A quick review reminds you that when designing your yard, put in plants that feed  ALL your senses, eyes, ears, nose and mouth.


Sep 222011

Sheet Mulching for the Edible Landscape:

Former Lawn, now vegetables and fruit

Former Lawn, now vegetables and fruit

What is sheet mulching? Simply put, it is putting several different layers of materials on your soil to get rid of your lawn, weeds and unwanted plants.  It consists of manure, cardboard and  mulch.  You can use different kinds of manure and different mulches. The main purpose is to cover the weeds, allow worms to eat them and to create fertile conditions for growing your new plants. Let me tell you how I got rid of my old lawn.

The day I decided I could no longer stand to mow my lawn one more time, I also realized I wasn’t going to break my back digging it up either. Sheet mulching was my solution, and something you can also do fairly easily. Fall and winter is the perfect time to do this.  You can let the covered area sit over the winter and in spring it will be ready for planting.  Follow the simple directions below and you will be amazed at how easy it is turn turn old and in the way into new and the only way to go.

Decide on an area that you would like to replant.  In  many cases, an old lawn really suits the bill. First you mow the lawn, or cut weeds and leave them on the ground. Next, spread manure 2” deep over the whole area. If you live near horse stables, they will usually be happy to give you the manure for free.  Be sure it has composted and is not fresh.  You don’t want to bring in weed seed. If you can’t find local manure, then you can buy manure in bags from your local nursery. Thirdly,  cover the manure with large pieces of cardboard (obtained free from a nearby appliance store).

On top of the cardboard you can lay another 2 inches of manure. Cover it all with six inches of fluffy hay or any other good looking mulch.  Once done  it looks fine. Your next  help comes in the form of hardworking earthworms.  Imported in the manure they make themselves right at home under their cardboard roofs, and over time (that would be Fall and Winter) they turn the lawn into beautiful soil.  I  sheet mulched my old lawn in the fall and when spring came, I planted varieties of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries as well as lilies, roses, herbs and flowers.  It turned into a cornucopia of beautiful food. The best news was that I didn’t have to dig up the lawn at all, the worms just ate it and turned it into perfect soil.

This is really turning your yard into a beautiful Edible Landscape.

P.S. If you prefer to use custom made fabrics for your sheet mulching, Amazon and Gardeners Supply
icon sell some good products. Both of these links I’ve provided will take you directly to fabrics for sheet mulching.


Close up view of new area for fruit and vegetables, used to be lawn

Close up view of new area for fruit and vegetables, used to be lawn


Sep 142011

What is a pest?  In a garden an animal can be a pest one day and not the next.  One of our most beloved members of the garden is the Bird. They’re beautiful, they sing, the eat insects, we NEED birds in the garden. BUT… they can also be incredibly damaging to our crops.

In the Spring song birds come flocking into the garden.   They can absolutely devastate your early crops by pecking at the leaves and pulling them out of the ground.  One way you can tell the difference between snail and slug damage and bird damage, is that a bird will leave a triangular peck in the leaf, like this > from its beak. A slug or snail will have an uneven  edge eaten. The easiest and most effective way I have found to deal with birds is to cover the beds.  I do this by putting a wire cover over the bed and lay bird netting over that. It allows the plants room to grow and keeps out all the birds.

Edible Landscapes need protection

Wire and netting over beds for protection from birds

The wire is cut to the size of the bed.  It is then gently put over the bed like a hoop.  I peg in the bottoms with wire staples  or a stick.  After the wire is in place, I put bird netting over it and tuck in all the corners.  I don’t recommend chicken wire, because it has many sharp edges, gets rusty and you can get caught on it too easily. This green coated wire is not expensive and easy to use.  The coating keeps it looking good and prevents it from rusting.

Bird netting works very well

Bird netting over wire hoop keeps the birds away from your vegetables

The next photo shows how I put the bird netting over the wire. It’s important to keep it pegged in at the edges so that birds don’t get caught inside the netting.

When the plants are up to the top of the wire I take it off and by then, the plants are no longer of interest to the birds.  They want something more tender.

Simple Dog Barrier

How can a bamboo stick keep a large dog out of the strawberries

How can bamboo sticks keep a large dog out of the strawberries?

I know this may seem ridiculous, but in the photo above I used small bamboo sticks to create a little fence around my strawberries.  I found that my large Black Labrador Retriever would walk through the strawberries and do his stuff right in the middle.  Big Yuck.  Once I put up this little barrier, he walked around the bed and we never had a problem.  My point here, is that sometimes you can find very simple and easy solutions to a vexing problem.

It’s also the case that a beloved member of the family can be a pest as well.


Sep 072011
Apples on the Tree

A bumper crop of apples in the Fall

In California, the Fall is synonymous with apples. For Edible Landscaping we have many varieties that will grow, from the coast up to the Sierra Foothills.  My own trees have four varieties of apples on one tree.  With two trees, that gives me a grand total of eight varieties, in one small area.  They ripen at slightly different times, to extend the season.  Check your nurseries for types that work in your climate. If you go to Smart Gardener you can type in your zip code and they’ll tell you what your growing season is.

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Of all the vegetable crops, tomatoes are one of the few that almost everyone wants to grow at home, because they ALWAYS (almost) taste better than store bought. If you live in a cool climate, as in the California northern coast, or a short season climate, as in higher elevations, then you want to grow Cherry tomatoes, which ripen earlier, faster and longer than larger tomatoes.  Check out the varieties of heirloom tomatoes that give wonderful taste, great yields and all kinds of colors. Organic gardening is more than a buzz word, it’s way to enjoy life.

One of my favorite Edible Landscape plants is the delicious Strawberry. Strawberries can be early, middle and late producing.  Some varieties give two crops, such as the one pictured below. Some are everbearing and some are Wild Strawberries. You will get a lot of information from this site, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, and you can order plants from them as well.


It's Fall and the Strawberries keep on coming

More on Fall Plants Tomorrow!

Sep 062011
Special ingredients for the best apple crisp
Special ingredients for the best apple crisp

Blackberry, strawberry and apples for the crisp

Going out into the garden to pick fruit is a really sweet thing to do.  You can be sure the fruit is fresh, organic, and ripe.  I needed something really quick to bring to a family gathering.  So I stepped out into the garden and picked a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of blackberries and some wonderfully tart apples.

Apples, blackberries and strawberries from the edible garden

Beautiful fruit right from the garden (click to enlarge)

All I had to do was rinse them off, slice the apples and put them in the pan.  If you want you can squeeze a little lemon juice over the apples.  I didn’t have any, and no harm was done. I confess to sprinkling a tiny bit of sugar over the top of the fruit.

The next step is the crumble for the top.  You can use a variety of ingredients.  I use 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup  flour, both whole wheat and white, 1/4 cup  sugar mixed in with 1/4 cup butter and a pinch of salt. A little cinnamon and nutmeg goes well with this. Mix these ingredients over the top and voila, you’re ready to go.  Thirty minutes in 350 deg oven and you will have the best crisp you’ve ever tasted.

Fresh and organic makes a huge difference in the taste of fruit.

The final crisp - ready to eat

This was still steaming from the oven when I took the picture.

People ask me if you can really eat flowers. The answer is a definite yes.  Take a look at this salad.

Edible Flowers in the salad

Nasturtiums and borage flowers in the salad

Flowers in a salad make the salad look beautiful and in this case give it a tangy flavor.  The Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers are also incredibly flavorful.  See what I have to say about edible flowers in another post.

Don’t be shy, give it a try. You might really like it.






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